To celebrate the ingenuity of human cultivation of land, the star ingre- dient of this dish is cauliflower: a plant whose flowers have been blocked in their development to produce a delectable mass of immature, fleshy buds. Its versatility of texture and complex aroma have been used to cre- ate a subtle dish. The principles of flavour pairing were followed to adapt a recipe from Heston Blumenthal (The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, Bloomsburry, 2008). The result is a creamy buckwheat risotto, with grit and dirt texture provided by ground tonka bean, cocoa, wattle seed and crispy cauliflower “trees.”

  • ~20 g olive oil
  • ~300 g buckwheat
  • ~80 g shallots
  • ~3 cloves of garlic
  • ~100 g Chardonnay (preferably oaked, we used a Pikes Chardonnay)
  • ~100 g vermouth
  • ~1 tablespoon cocoa or wattleseed powder
  • ~30 g unsalted butter (beurre noisette)
  • ~700 g cauliflower florets
  • ~200 g mascarpone
  • 1 bunch of chives
  • Grated parmesan
  • Pepper and salt to taste

Warm the olive oil in a deep pan. Add buckwheat and lightly toast. Reduce heat. Add shallots and garlic. Sweat on low heat until soft. Add cauliflower florets and cocoa. Add Chardonnay and vermouth, reduce until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add a ladleful of cauliflower stock stirring constantly until almost absorbed. Cook until almost ready. Leave to stand for 5–10 minutes with a lid on. Stir in the reserved cauliflower cream, mascarpone, parmesan, pepper, salt. Beat in the beurre noisette. Chop the chives and fold into the risotto. Sprinkle cocoa or wattleseed powder on top when serving.

  • ~30 g unsalted butter
  • ~800 g cauliflower florets
  • ~60 g semi skimmed milk
  • ~1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ½ tonka bean

Heat the butter in a large pan until it foams, add the cauliflower and cook until it caramelises. Add the milk, bring to the boil and then simmer for 2–3 minutes. Transfer the mixture into a blender, blitz to a purée. Add spices and salt to taste. Pass through a fine sieve, leave to cool and refrigerate until needed.

  • ~2 kg cauliflower
  • ~300 g onions, chopped
  • ~6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ~1.8 kg water
  • ~20 g olive oil

Remove cauliflower leaves and roughly chop them. Break cauliflower into florets. Cut off the stalks and reserve. Roughly chop the florets and set aside about 200 g. Heat a 1 mm depth olive oil in a large pan. Add the unweighted florets, onions and garlic and sweat until the onions are transparent. Add the water and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the leaves and the reserved florets and leave to infuse for 1 hour. Pass the stock through a sieve, lined with muslin and chill over ice. Reserve until needed.

  • ~100 g cauliflower florets
  • ~1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ~100 g cauliflower stock
  • ~100 g whipping cream
  • ~100 g semi skinned milk
  • ½ tonka bean
  • Zest of ½ lemon

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil. Blanch the florets in small batches for 2–3 minutes. Drain and place in iced water to cool. Place the remaining ingredients in another pan and bring to the boil. Add the blanched florets and simmer for 40 minutes. Transfer to a blender, purée, then pass through a fine sieve. Refrigerate until needed.

300 g of cauliflower

Preheat oven to 60° C. Break cauliflower into florets. Using a mandoline, cut the florets finely, so they look like small trees. Lay the slices on a sheet of silicone paper and place in the oven for 24 hours, or until they are dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container.

We sourced our cauliflower from the Molenbeek market in Brussels. Tonka bean, curry powder and cocoa came from Mmmmh (http://www.mmmmh.be), Wattle seed was from the Adelaide Central Market (http://www.adelaidecentralmarket.com.au). Pikes Chardonnay came from Crush Wine (http://crushwine.eu). Milk, cream, butter and cheese came from Cremerie de Linkebeek (Oude Graanmarkt, 1000 Brussels) – they stock an excellent selection of cheese and dairy and the owner is very knowledgeable about his cheeses. Buckwheat, shallots, onions, garlic, chives and lemons we bought from an organic shop (http://www.bioshop.be/winkels/brussel.html). Vermouth we had in the kitchen, left over from one of our previous mixology experiments, so its origin is uncertain.

(an sidebar recipe)